Arrest illegal immigrants. Send the National Guard to monitor the border. Build a wall. Eliminate jobs.
The four candidates running for the two District 7 Republican nominations agree that immigration is major problem affecting Arizona.
But they disagree about the best way to remedy it.
The candidates addressed that issue and several others Wednesday in a debate sponsored by Arizona Clean Elections. They are vying for a House seat for the district which includes Carefree, Cave Creek and parts of Scottsdale and Phoenix.
The candidates are incumbent Reps. Ray Barnes and Nancy Barto, both of Phoenix, and challengers Howard Sprague of Phoenix and ousted legislator David Burnell Smith of Carefree.
“The main issue in District 7 is immigration,” said Smith, who gained national attention in January for being the first lawmaker from any state to be removed from office for violating campaign finance laws.
Smith said levying hefty fines against companies that hire illegal immigrants would stop border crossing by eliminating the reason to come to the state.
“If you stop giving them jobs, then they’ll stop coming,” he said.
Barto is the former District 7 Republican chairman appointed by the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors to finish Smith’s two-year term. She said the resources of the National Guard are the most effective way to secure the borders.
“We need to turn them back at the border,” Barto said. “Until the borders are secure, any other measure that we take will have a limited effect.”
While Sprague believes the answer to stemming illegal immigration lies in securing the border, he thinks the best way to do that is by building a fence.
“We need to support the Minutemen’s fundraising efforts to build the wall,” he said. “And we have to prosecute the offenders crossing the border.”
Barnes supports the idea of prosecuting border crossers but wants to take the concept one step farther.
“Arrest them, put them in Tent City and then use the manpower to let them build the fence,” he said.
All of the candidates opposed amnesty for illegal immigrants.
The four are competing for two nominations in the Sept. 12 Republican primary.
They will face Democrats Marilyn Fox and Jeanne Lunn, both of Scottsdale, and Libertarian Jim Iannuzo of Phoenix in the Nov. 7 general election.